Wednesday, February 27, 2013

SPOILERS: Batman, Incorporated #8

Damian is getting down to business. With his mech armor, or whatever you call that, he does a fly by, dropping gas pellets to help out Dick and Gordon with the Leviathan kids, and heads immediately to Wayne Enterprises, where his mother has Bruce caught in a death trap. Inside the safe at the bottom of the roof pool, Bruce manages to cough up a lock pick, as Talia taunts him, telling him what he could have been. Bruce, who hasn't said a whole lot in these past two issues, bluntly reminds Talia that he's not her father.

Before Damian reaches the tower, Tim enters the lobby, checking in on the situation, but Leviathan agents act as if everything is normal, until Tim realizes that the receptionist is wearing Ellie's tag, which is when Ellie yells out to him that it's a trap. Tim doesn't have a hard time beating off his attackers, until some guards open fire on him from the balcony. Tim gets Ellie to hide, does some acrobatics and knocks the giant quarter into the balcony, but the model plane he grappled onto gives out, leaving him trapped under it. With guards swarming him, Tim is saved by Damian who ends up fighting off the guards and a bunch of mind washed kids.

The gun fire gets a bit too much for Damian, but Dick manages to step in and take cover with his former partner. Knowing that they're about to enter a life and death battle, Damian opens up to Dick a bit, and tells them that he was his favorite partner, and they were the best, no matter what anyone says. Dick pats himself on the back, and enters battle with Damian, just like old times.

Things come to a halt as the Heretic arrives, holding the trigger to the world bomb. Both Dick and Damian try and take him on, but don't do much to the giant hulk of a man. The Heretic disposes of Dick pretty quickly, but before he can do anymore damage, Damian distracts him. The Heretic signals the guards to hold off, as he decides to face his brother/twin/rival on his own.

The two enter battle, and it's pretty one sided. Damian believes his mother to be listening and tries to get her to call him off, but The Heretic just knocks him into a nearby suit of armor. Meanwhile, Ellie grabs the trigger to the world bomb, which gets The Heretic's attention. As he approaches her, Damian shoots him with a crossbow, which literally does nothing to him.

The two begin fighting once more, with Damian unable to even stun his clone, who attempts to snap his "brother's" spine, but you know... robot spine. The guards then open fire with bows and arrows, many of which hit Damian directly. All he can do is spit blood into the eye of The Heretic, as he calls them all cowards. The Heretic throws Damian into a wall, and picks up a sword. In one final attempt, Damian tries to get Talia to call off her monster, but the only answer he receives is the sharp end of The Heretic's sword.

At the same time, Bruce finally gets out of the safe, as Talia continues to taunt him, claiming their son to be a flawed, failed experiment, and that he's losing the game. Bruce finally makes his way to Damian, but it's too late. Ellie just stands there, still with the bomb trigger, in shock, as Bruce cradle's his son's body. Even Talia sheds a tear, in what she describes as a "moment of weakness."


The Good:

I'll be honest, it's hard to sit here and go "yeah! this, this and this was really awesome!" because this issue bummed me the fuck out. I will say this though, the scene between Dick and Damian was fantastic, Chris Burnham's art was visceral and emotional all at the same time (especially enjoyed his nods to guys like Frank Quitely and Cameron Stewart), and well, I'd be hard pressed to tell you when the last time a single issue evoked this kind of emotion out of me, which is hard to get out of a somewhat cynical comic fan.

The Bad:

I was somewhat disappointed how Damian went out. Based on what Morrison had said with the news of his death, it sounded as if it was more heroic than what actually happened. I was expecting a blaze of glory, and that's not quite what we got. But perhaps there's a larger point to why it happened the way it did, which I'll address in the next section. Also, the whole reason why I didn't want Damian to die in the first place was the fact that a dead Robin has already been done before. With that in mind, this death flies dangerously closer to "Death in the Family" with the whole "Batman didn't make it in time" thing. But, again, perhaps that was the point.

The Bottom Line:

Despite how much I dislike the outcome of this issue, I'm willing to look at the larger picture here. I remember when I watched "Talking with Gods," Morrison mentioning his parent's divorce, then when I heard about the theme of this issue I thought that was coming back into play, and sure enough he said just that in the NYPost article. The way Damian goes out is really heavy. We see that despite his headstrong nature, training, and status as the boy wonder, at the end of the day, he's still just a child, who is caught between his mother and father fighting. His final words were a last attempt to get his parents to stop fighting, which tragically got lost in his mother's ego, and he paid the ultimate price for his parent's sins. I've seen a lot of screwed up stuff in my time reading super hero comics, and it's easy to dismiss stuff like this to be sales gimmicks or for shallow shock value, but when you strip away the jaded cynicism that many readers have towards death in comics, there is a truly sad and tragic story to be read, the likes of which I haven't read in a very long time. I absolutely hate the outcome of the book, but stripping way the emotions, and looking at this issue in an objective light, it is hard to deny the masterfully told story at hand.



  1. Ugh. I liked the issue, same as you, but hated the outcome with Damian dead. I'm seriously disappointed in the "fight" that Tim and Dick put up. Tim's batrope snapped and he's trapped under a plane? Dick gets thrown down and isn't up for the rest of the issue? Damian took all of that and more and went out Boromir style with arrows sticking out of him. I expected more out of Robin 1 and Robin 3 I guess.

    Thanks for reminding us about the robotic spine. I completely forgot. It was an interesting issue with lots of shout-outs to Batman moments past - Death in the Family, Knightfall, and especially Batman and Robin Vol. 1. The "double-punch" by Dick and Damian on the Heretic is the exact same double-punch they used successfully to knock Mr. Toad out way back in their first issue together. Only this time it had no effect. Sigh.

    What do think exactly is fueling the Heretic? Damian knows how to kill people and he shot that sucker through the heart. I'm wondering if there's something more to the Heretic or if it's just how it's illustrated.

    Thanks for the site! I enjoy your reviews every week.

  2. I think Jason might be the one responsible for killing Talia.

    1. The big question is who is in that other double grave they showed in the beginning of Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 in the first pages? I can't see them letting Grant kill both Damian and Talia. I don't see Bruce burying Damian clone next to Damian either.

    2. Either that. Or most likely Ra's well show up sometime soon, since Talia betrayed him.

  3. That was my only concern with the issue as well, what Morrison said about Damian. But I like your take on the whole divorce/parents thing.
    "He saves the world. He does his job as Robin. He dies an absolute hero." Don't get me wrong, he sure did die a hero. He stood up to this giant fucker while taking dozens of bullets and arrows, trying to convince Talia to step back. Of course saving the world was probably meant figuratively, but I want to believe Damian was the catalyst for whatever is going to follow next.
    I hear you about the Damian/Dick moment. Same goes for their moment in last week's Nightwing. Such a slap in the face.

  4. like that The New 52 has all the batbooks tied up together (in fact, all the 52 books tied up together somehow in a messy but kinda of okay way), but I honestly think that if Batman, Inc. were separated from the main timeline, it would be better. A "dead" Robin just affects badly the beautifully written and well made Batman and Robin title, in fact affects every other bat-title, and leaving them with the fucking mess that's gonna be the repercussions of a dead hero (like we didn't see that before...). To me it seems really unfair, we already had two crossovers getting in the way of main storylines and now there's this harsh stab to the chest.
    Sigh. I'll miss Damian though. The caracther that most benefit from the reboot. (Well, taking out that dying part)